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'Bring Red Hugh's body home' - MEP

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The dig in Valladolid, Spain

The dig in Valladolid, Spain

The dig in Valladolid, Spain

Ireland is to ask the Spanish authorities to consider allowing the remains of Red Hugh O'Donnell, one of the country's most heroic figures, to be repatriated after four centuries.

While Spanish archaeologists have not yet located the remains of the famous Gaelic clan chief who died on September 10, 1602, experts are confident they will locate his burial site in a dig at Valladolid.

Ireland South MEP Billy Kelleher said that if O'Donnell's body is found, he wants Ireland to formally request that the Spanish authorities consider allowing it to return home.

The Spanish media have been captivated by the search for the chieftain's remains - and he has been described as the Irish 'El Cid' or 'William Wallace.'

Wish

"I really think that this man who devoted his entire life to fighting for Irish freedom and independence should be brought home to a free Ireland," Mr Kelleher said.

"I can understand how the Spanish authorities might want to keep his remains in Valladolid because, if the remains are located and identified, they will inevitably become an enormous tourist attraction.

"I can also understand how they might want to honour O'Donnell's dying wish as to where he was buried.

"But Red Hugh O'Donnell's entire life was devoted to Ireland and to his native Donegal and I think that is where he should be finally laid to rest in a place of honour.

"He is one of the most iconic figures in Irish history and he deserves to be brought home and a fitting burial monument erected to him."

Mr Kelleher said that, if necessary, he will raise the proposal with his Spanish counterparts in the European Parliament.

He is to discuss the matter with Tánaiste Simon Coveney.

O'Donnell died aged just 29 in Valladolid while attempting to meet King Philip of Spain in a bid to secure further support to fight the British crown.

The Irish chieftain had been ill with a fever for a fortnight and, as he neared death, had expressed a wish to be buried in the famous Chapel of Wonders at a Franciscan monastery in the north western Spanish city.